Draft Preview: The Waiting Game

April has already been a busy month for Chris Maragos, especially when it came to put the finishing touches on his April 9th wedding. So when he settles in for this weekend's NFL Draft, the former UW captain is more excited that nervous for the next challenge.

MADISON - While the feelings he's going through register from nerves to excitement, there's one certainty that is going through the mind of former Wisconsin safety Chris Maragos.

The night before his wedding on April 9 to Serah West was much more stressful.

"The night before the wedding, no doubt," Maragos said with a laugh. "That's a big day. Football is big, too, but getting ready to spend the rest of your life with someone is definitely big."

That's not to say the draft won't be slightly nerve wracking for the Maragos along with his wife, his parents and his brother, who plan to watch the 2010 NFL Draft together over the weekend. Growing up as a football fan and watching the NFL Draft as a kid, the three-day primetime event will be an experience.

"It's one of those things that's kind of surreal to think that you are going to be in the draft and that there's a good possibility that you are going to get drafted," Maragos said. " I've been watching the draft for years, seeing guys get taken, and to now be in it is kind of a cool feeling."

Maragos described the night before his wedding as frantic – having to make sure everything was prepared, put together and in order before stepping in front of the alter. On the same accord, that same preparation pattern he took right after UW's 20-17 win over Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl seems to have put him in a position to have his name called.

A native of Racine (Wis.) that started out as a walk-on receiver at Western Michigan, it only took Maragos three years to transfer and become a two-year starter at free safety for Wisconsin, being named a captain as a senior.

Even so, Maragos didn't start turning heads until UW's pro day in March. Maragos made scouts do a double take when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds and posted a 6.51 in the 3-cone drill - which tests change of direction. Had Maragos been invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, he would have been place in the top 10 among all safeties in six agility drills, including second in the 40 and tops in the 3-cone.

It's not a surprise that many felt Maragos moved from being an undrafted free agent to a possible selection in the Saturday portion of the draft.

"I've had conversations with people ranging from general managers to coaches to assistant coaches and scouts from pretty much every team," Maragos said. "I think for me, I always knew I could compete. After pro day, I think everybody else started believe it, too."

Maragos had an individual workout two weeks ago with the Kansas City Chiefs and took visits last week to Detroit and Jacksonville, quick pit stops before leaving on his honeymoon, to undergo physical exams, tour the facilities and meet with the coaches.

The only issue with Maragos is his size (5-foot-11, 202 pounds) and that he has only played the position for two seasons. Maragos counters by saying he isn't close to reaching his potential yet and points to the success that former UW safety Jim Leonhard (5-8, 186 pounds), now with the New York Jets, has had in his effective career being a smaller player.

It's only fitting that Maragos has spent the majority of his draft preparations watching film and working out with Leonhard, as both are represented by X-A-M Sports.

"I've been hearing a lot and it's just going to take that one team to take a shot," Maragos said. "I've heard the best possibility is fourth round, worst free agency and a sweet spot being the sixth round. You never know what's going to happen. It's tough to tell because everybody is trying to hold their cards close to the vest."

Maragos isn't the only former Wisconsin player waiting to see what their fate is, as defensive end O'Brien Schofield, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Jaevery McFadden all are expected to make NFL rosters (Schofield and Graham as mid-round picks, McFadden as a late pick or free agent).

Schofield was the best draft prospect UW has produced since Joe Thomas was a top five draft pick by Cleveland in 2007, but tore the ACL in his left knee during the first practice at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25. Still, Schofield was named the defensive most valuable player in the East-West Shrine Game after registering three tackles and an interception, showing teams he could be successful in the 3-4 defense.

Like Schofield, Maragos is a man strong in his faith, which leads him to believe that he'll find success whether his name is announced or not.

"I am excited for the next phase, whether it's as a draft pick or a free agent," Maragos said. "If I don't get picked, it's not going to stop me. I've proven people wrong before and I'll do it again if I have to."

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